47th Face to Face Meeting Innovations for People with Spinal Cord Injury : New Freedom through Movement

Lors du 47e Face to Face Meeting, vous apprendrez comment l'interaction de la recherche, de la technologie et du mouvement peuvent donner de nouvelles libertés aux paraplégiques. L'événement se déroulera en anglais.

30.09.2021, 17h15 – Hotel Sempachersee, Guido A. Zäch Strasse 2, 6207 Nottwil

Moving freely in the city and in nature, doing sports and being in control of one’s own body: for people with paraplegia, this is not done as a matter of course. Yet, rehabilitation research is on the move: at the 47th Face to Face Meeting, you will learn how neurotechnologies restore motor functions and discover the challenges paralysed cyclists are faced with in FES cycling. Furthermore, you will gain insight into the daily restrictions of paraplegics and their resulting innovative power. Experience how the interaction of research, technology and movement can minimise health risks and give greater freedom to paraplegics.

This event is considered an education course under the «Tarifvertrag Rollstuhlversorgung». Two credits will be granted for participation. More information here.

Registration deadline: 22 September 2021

The event will take place on site in Nottwil. A valid COVID certificate (vaccinated, tested or recovered) is required for participation. Please bring the certificate and a photo identification (e.g. your ID card, passport driving licence, residence permit, student ID card or SwissPass). The presentations will be recorded and afterwards published online.


An accident in 2013 left me quadriplegic.  I then started to do physical training with one objective: to maximise my recovery.  After doing exercises with machines and up to 37 hours per week of training in my basement, I finally realizing that I had to combine "intelligent" movements with pleasure. Hence, the Go-Tryke was born: a three-wheeled bicycle that employs both arms and legs for outdoor use. The start-up, GBY has received promising results based on ist user-trials. This has been an incredible technical and human adventure that I will share with you.

Sebastian Tobler, Lecturer Vehicle Construction Bern University of Applied Sciences & CEO GBY SA


Sebastian Tobler

Over the past 15 years, my research team have developed a multipronged intervention that reestablished voluntary control of paralyzed legs in animal models of spinal cord injury, and recently in humans. This intervention acts over two time-windows. Immediately, electrical and chemical stimulations applied to the lumbar spinal cord reactivate lumbar execute centers located below the injury that coordinate leg movements, enabling voluntary control of paralyzed muscles during locomotion. In the long term, will-powered training regimens enabled by these electrochemical stimulations and cutting-edge robotic assistance promote the reorganization of residual connections that restores voluntary movements without stimulation. We recently exploited these neurotechnologies to target the sympathetic circuitry, which allowed us to develop a neuroprosthetic baroreflex that precisely controls hemodynamic instability after severe SCI in preclinical models and humans. During my talk, I will discuss the technological and conceptual development of these interventions in preclinical models, how we translated these developments in humans with SCI, and how we envision the next steps to establish a clinically viable treatment.

Prof. Dr. Grégoire Courtine, Co-Director Defitech Center for Interventional Neurotherapies (NeuroRestore), École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne EPFL

Prof. Dr. Grégoire Courtine

Technology has been developed that allows people with complete lower-limb paralysis following spinal cord injury to propel a recumbent tricycle by muscle power alone: functional electrical stimulation (FES). In addition to facilitating mobility and recreation, FES-cycling brings substantial improvements in fitness, musculoskeletal condition, and general health. This presentation will review recent technological and scientific developments in FES-cycling, and will highlight our team’s industrial collaborations aimed at bringing FES devices to market. Finally, preparations for the FES Bike Race at Cybathlon 2020 will be described.

Prof. Dr. Kenneth James Hunt, Head, Institute for Rehabilitation and Performance Technology IRPT, Bern University of Applied Sciences

Prof. Dr. Kenneth Hunt

This presentation shows how the science of usability evaluation can enrich the study of the trike from the perspective of person-centeredness, co-creation and technology-engagement. Specifically, main focus will be on how the determinants of users’ satisfaction translate in the identification of key-innovative aspects of the trike.

Prof. Dr. Sara Rubinelli, Department of Health Science and Medicine, Group Leader in Health Communication, University of Lucerne and Swiss Paraplegic Research

Prof. Dr. Sara Rubinelli
Prof. Dr. Sara Rubinelli

It is well known that optimal spatio-temporal coordination between the arms and legs is facilitated by propriospinal interconnections between locomotor networks at the cervical and lumbar levels. The functional consequence observed in young adults is that during a cycling exercise involving the arms (active) and the legs (passive), increased muscle activity in the upper limbs leads to greater muscle activation in the passively driven lower limbs. Furthermore, the timing of the electromyographic (EMG) activity recorded in the muscles of the passively driven lower limbs is identical to the timing observed when the legs are in active motion. Similar results have been seen in patients with incomplete spinal cord injury. In the QUADRACT study, we seek to identify the optimal conditions for arm movement which could facilitate spontaneous leg participation. We have therefore examined a number of factors that could play a significant role in the automatic control of arm-leg coupling in a quadruped pedalling exercise: the attention given or not given to hand movement, the relative position of the handles and pedals, and finally, the speed and power of the arm movements. From a practical standpoint, the results obtained will help to develop adapted exercises involving arm movement in order to maximise lower limb rehabilitation in patients with spinal cord injury.

Jérôme Barral, PhD, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Sport Sciences, University of Lausanne

Dr. Jérôme Barral
Dr. Jérôme Barral


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